Common European Framework


The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe. It emerged as an initiative of the Council of Europe as the main part of the project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" between 1989 and 1996. The main aim of the CEFR is to provide a method of assessing and teaching which applies to all languages in Europe. There are six reference levels (see below) which are widely accepted as the European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency.

Levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language Learning



A 1

Elementary use of language (Breakthrough)

A 2

Elementary use of language (Waystage)

B 1

Independent use of language (Threshold)

B 2

Independent use of language (Vantage)

C 1

Competent use of language (Effective Operational Proficiency)

C 2

Competent use of language (Mastery)


The present courses are designed for students who have had an initial introduction to one of the TOOL languages and who wish to progress from a basic survival level (European level A1) to a higher competency (level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).


The descriptors, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and taken from the EQUALS-ALTE European Language Portfolio, are ubiquitous in the courses and it is a key part of the tutor’s job to help students to understand these descriptors and to use them to develop student autonomy.

These descriptors can be found at: and later improved versions from the Association of Language Testers of Europe (ALTE) All tutors need to study these documents carefully.  Helping students to understand the descriptors leads to better functioning in the language. The descriptors explain what students will be able to do in the language after having worked their way through the unit.


All the descriptors of the CEFR A2 level have been used in the TOOL language courses, providing them with a common basis.


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